Lemon Yogurt Cake

6-17 Lemon Yogurt Cake

Everyone brace yourself for a somewhat sappy post.  I am feeling nostalgic and missing home a little since it’s my first summer being officially and permanently off on my own.  Even though I am a mostly functional adult, I still miss home a little, especially at times like this around little holidays when I can’t make it back home.

It seems to be a common experience to have some family tension in our younger years, particularly during those wonderful years of our lives known as junior high and high school.  But as you get older, you get some clarity and insight with regards to your parents. My nonstalgic mood has led to a lot of contemplation recently (mixed in with watching Freaks and Geeks on Netflix so I am not a self enlightened guru yet, I can still learn from a 90’s high school TV drama), and I can now appreciate all the work my parents put into me.

And I turned out just wonderfully, no?

I use my parent’s life lessons often now- whether it’s during a night when I am having problems sleeping when I remember when dad would rub my back and tell me that even just laying in bed was okay if I couldn’t sleep or if I see a questionable dress at the store, I remember that mom taught me to both keep an open mind and to always try on clothes in the store. And I appreciate both of my parent’s support on my life path, which has been tumultuous slightly in the past but is finally straightening out.

So you have probably scrolled past all this personal rambling and want to know about this wonderful lemon cake.  I made this treat last year for father’s day since my dad loves lemon and I love Ina Garten.  And then my mom made this again unknowingly for my dad’s birthday this year- because great minds think alike.

This cake is tender and full of lemon flavor. Tri-fold lemon flavor in fact.  The cake is filled with lemon zest, soaked in a lemon syrup, and then topped with a lemon glaze. If you like but don’t love lemon, I would recommend just a plain powdered sugar glaze without lemon.  But if you are a lemon lover as I am, you will love the extra lemon kick.  And if your dad, mom, sister, or brother love lemon flavored treats, make them this cake and chow down together.

Also mom and dad, if you ever give me advice in the future that I am reluctant to hearing,  I will deny saying any of this ever.  What lemon cake? Hm?

Slightly Adapted from Ina Garten


For the Cake:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking power
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil

For the Lemon Syrup:
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup granulate sugar

For the Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons half and half, if needed


For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a loaf pan (8 to 9 inch long). Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest. Rub the zest into the sugar and set aside.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk yogurt, eggs, and vanilla together with lemon zest an sugar. Once incorporated, whisk in dry ingredients until just combined. Slowly fold in vegetable oil with a rubber spatula. Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake for 48-52 minutes, or-until toothpick in center comes out clean.

For the Lemon Syrup:
While the cake bakes, combine lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook until sugar is dissolved. When cake is done, cool on wire wrack for 10 minutes. Invert cake on a baking sheet and remove from loaf pan. Using a small wooden skewer, poke holes throughout the cake. Spoon a small amount of the lemon syrup over top, allowing to soak. Cool the cake completely.

For the Glaze:
In a small bowl whisk powdered sugar and lemon juice together. Whisk in half and half to thin out, if desired. Pour on top of cake. Slice and serve.

Lemon Bars

I have made several attempts at homemade lemon recipes.  With these attempts, came many unblogged failures of lackluster lemon bars with bland and goopey fillings.  So believe me when I say I know what bad lemon filling tastes like.  But now after making this recipe, I know what good, homemade lemon filling tastes like- success at last! Leave it to Cook’s Illustrated to know how to make a good lemon bar  A buttery, crumbly crust and a smooth, luscious, lemon filling is a lethal combination to diets across America.

The best parts of the bars were there corners and edges.  The combination of the crisp, buttery crust with the lemon filling is to die for.  I may or may not have cut around the edges and eaten those pieces.  And then seriously contemplated buying the edge-only baking pans.

Slightly Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
For the Crust:

8 3/4 ounces all purpose flour (about 1 3/4 cup)
2 3/4 ounces powdered sugar (about 2/3 cup)
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces

For the Filling:
9 1/2 ounces granulated sugar (about 1 1/3 cups)
2 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
4 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar, for topping


For the Crust:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with foil.  Grease the foil.

In a food processor, combine flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Pulse until combined.  Chill slices of butter.  Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal.  Pour mixture into baking pan.  Press into an even layer, reaching about 1/2 inch up the sides.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Bake until golden brown, 20-23 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine granulated sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl.  Using your hand rub the zest into the sugar.  Let sit for at least 5 minutes.  Add flour and eggs.  Whisk together.  Add lemon juice, milk, and salt.

Lower oven temperature to 325°F.  Pour mixed lemon filling into warm crust.  Bake for 22-25 minutes, until filling jiggles slightly and feels firm to the touch.  Cool on a wire wrack.  Cut into squares and dust additional powdered sugar on top, if desired